Harrison names new head football coach


Derek Rehage, who has been known for his leadership skills on and off the football field, has been promoted from defensive coordinator to head football coach at Harrison High School.

The Board of Education for the Southwest Local School District tonight unanimously appointed Rehage, who will replace Kent McCullough starting in the 2017-18 season. Rehage also will continue to serve as an intervention specialist for the district.

“I remember when I was a high school football player and the positive influence that the coaches, my teammates and the game had on me,” he said. “I want to be part of that experience for the young men here at Harrison – to give them the same opportunities that were given to me and make a positive impact on their lives.” 

Rehage, who lives in Harrison, emerged from a field of 18 highly qualified applicants, including high school coaches whose teams had won the state championship. Harrison assistant football coaches, parents, a school board member and administrators participated in the interviews.

Athletic Director Mark Meibers predicted the transition will be “unbelievably smooth” because Rehage has been coaching and teaching at Harrison. “His relationship with the student-athletes and community is second to none,” Meibers said. “His knowledge of football is great and his ability to lead on and off the field is what truly separates him from others. Derek is special. He has a passion for football and his players.” 

Rehage said he will retain many of the features that McCullough used to run the football program but that he will add new elements that fit the way he likes to do things. He believes the keys to success include emphasizing fundamentals, playing with great effort and as a team, and displaying sportsmanship to officials and opposing players.

Before moving to Harrison High School, he served as a varsity assistant football coach and head wrestling coach at East Central High School in St. Leon, Indiana for six seasons. Previously, he was a varsity assistant football coach and freshman wrestling coach at Colerain High School.

He earned a bachelor’s of science degree in education from Miami University, majoring in physical education and minoring in special education. He later earned a master’s degree in education, focusing on curriculum development, from Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois.

He played football at East Central High School and Miami University. After college, he played eight games in the NFL Europe on a team called Rhein Fire when he broke his hand and had surgery. Then, he went to the 2007 preseason camp with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a rookie free agent but the hand injury caused the Steelers to release him before the regular season.

In February, McCullough accepted the head coaching job at Turpin High School in the Forest Hills Local School District after leading the Wildcats to 39 wins and 26 losses in six seasons. Harrison is a Division II, Region 8 school in the Ohio Southwest Conference.